Reports that the presidents of the nation’s two biggest
teachers unions saw their pay jump 20 percent last year, to nearly half a
million dollars apiece, has riled former Michigan Schools Superintendent Tom
|(NEA President Dennis Van Roekel)|
At a time when teachers across the country face pay
freezes and possible layoffs, American Federation of Teachers President Randi
Weingarten’s pay jumped to $407,323 between 2010 and 2011, according to
Watkins, while her counterpart at the National Education Association, Dennis
Van Roekel, got a raise to $362,644. When stipends and other paid expenses are
added in, Weingarten took in $493,859 and Van Roekel $460,060.
“The big salaries drew jeers from many educators and
their advocates in the U.S., where the average nationwide salary for teachers
is a scant $44,000 a year,” Watkins wrote in his newest online column. “By
contrast, nearly 600 staffers at the NEA and AFT are raking in six-figure
salaries, according to Association of American Educators Executive Director
That’s right – 600 staffers making $100,000 or more.
Union executives rake in nearly 10 times the average
household income and far more than any teacher.. At the same
time, teachers’ pay is heading in the opposite direction.
Watkins quotes Tony Amorose, a history teacher with the
Dearborn School District, who said no one begrudges union officials fair
salaries. But Amorose said the steep increases are out of step with what the
rank and file experience. After 21 years of teaching, he earns $74,000 a year.
He said his personal finances are fine, but he worries about the pay younger
and less experienced teachers get.
“It would be nice if the unions held the line a bit in a
show of solidarity,” said Amorose, who is campaigning for state office. “I
don’t mind paying dues, but I don’t see them going down with my compensation.
They keep going up. I find it a bit frustrating that they would give themselves
such significant salary and compensation increases.”
You can read the full column later this week at